On November 5, Thomas Piketty will inform Dutch Parliament in The Hague and then continue to Amsterdam for the evening. While he is busy in The Hague – and likely will be grilled on the French economy – there will be a small symposium on inequality at the University of Amsterdam so that the students are prepared for the evening. Then in the evening Piketty will be interviewed by Joris Luyendijk (Dutch, The Guardian), who we can see already praising Tomas Sedlacek and his book on the economics of good and evil in this video from Belgium.
For some curious reason – probably to exploit the library budgets – there will also be a Dutch translation of Piketty’s book on October 30, even though it is a scientific book and English is the language of science. But, rationality and consistency are hard to maintain in an international hype. Also, for Dutch translators it is easier to translate from English to Dutch than to translate from Dutch to English. Translators paradoxically are a major cause for maintaining the Dutch language sinkhole.
My objection is that Piketty’s bookcase doesn’t have copies of my books DRGTPE and CSBH.
Overall, I seem to be one of the few economists who hasn’t read Piketty’s book yet. I intend to keep it so, not for lack of interest but because of lack of logical necessity. Piketty’s summary does not indicate that it is essential reading unless you are involved in economic statistics.
There are two papers w.r.t. Piketty’s work that I can recommend:
- James K. Galbraith, Unpacking the first fundamental law, RWER 69, download pdf
- David Colander, Piketty’s policy proposals: How to effectively redistribute income, RWER 69, download pdf
I am happy to observe that inequality was large before 1900 and that labour unions, mass education and the welfare state contributed to a much more equal society. The economic analyses of Keynes (1883-1946) and Tinbergen (1903-1994) provided a framework such that natural human desires for democracy and social care could be combined with sensible economic policy. The problem is that this fortunate combination broke down since 1970. The explanation is provided in these sources:
- The books DRGTPE and CSBH.
- The overview paper “Cause and cure of the crisis“.
- The memo “An Economic Supreme Court“, RES Newsletter October 2014
- The complete proof when the censorship by the directorate of the Dutch Central Planning Bureau (CPB) since 1990 is lifted.
Unfortunately, Holland appears to be a rather sick country that doesn’t mind censorship of economic science.
In that symposium at the University of Amsterdam there is econometrician David Hollanders, who in 2004 wrote a curiously convoluted analysis on the ‘death of politics because of the technocracy by said CPB’, but it may be that he also asserted the opposite because his analysis is rather inconsistent. Hollanders rejected to look into the censorship at the CPB. The magazine De Groene that published his convoluted article did not print my protest against his gibberish, see this 2004 protest here, and see also my 2012 protest against the Dutch “young Turks” who are so-called critical but who are intellectually lazy (and, indeed, try to find a translator for these Dutch texts). Fact-checking De Groene, we find that they put Thomas Piketty on their cover twice. Apparently they will use anything that sells, hypes included.
That symposium is also organised by AMCIS, and one click away is AIAS where we find professor Paul de Beer, who we discussed before on the basic income issue. Holland remains a small country.
My own work that relates to inequality, apart from full employment:
- The dynamic marginal tax rate (1997) included in DRGTPE
- Understanding the impact of the minimum wage on the Gini Index, October 27 2000 (rejected for inclusion in the Luxemburg Income Study database since I do not use their data but those of CBS Statistics Netherlands)